Sunday, 29 November 2015

Quality Gurus - William Edwards Deming

William Edwards Deming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American engineer, statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and management consultant. Deming made a significant contribution to Japan's reputation for innovative, high-quality products, and for its economic power. He is regarded as having had more impact on Japanese manufacturing and business than any other individual not of Japanese heritage.1

Deming is best known for reminding management that most problems are systemic and that it is management's responsibility to improve the systems so that workers (management and non-management) can do their jobs more effectively. Deming argued that higher quality leads to higher productivity, which, in turn, leads to long-term competitive strength.2 Edwards Deming was a prominent consultant, teacher, and author on the subject of Quality. Deming has published more than 200 works, including well known books Quality, Productivity and Competitive Position and Out of the crisis.3

Major contributions of Edwards Deming are
  •  Deming’s 14 Principles
  •  Deming’s PDSA Cycle
  •  System of Profound Knowledge
  •  Deming's Seven Deadly Diseases

Deming’s 14 Principles

In his book Out of the Crisis, Deming offered 14 key principles for managing and transforming organizations. Deming’s principles have been cited in literature countless times and are a source of inspiration for many Agile and Lean managers around the world.4
  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive, to stay in business and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for massive inspection by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of a price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move towards a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, in order to foresee problems of production and usage that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary numerical targets: Eliminate work standards that prescribe quotas for the work force and numerical goals for people in management.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objectives.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody's job.

Deming’s PDSA Cycle

It is a common myth to credit Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) to Deming. Deming referred to the PDCA Cycle as a "corruption." Deming worked from the Shewhart cycle and over time eventually developed the Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) cycle, which has the idea of deductive and inductive learning built into the learning and improvement cycle.5
The Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle (PDSA) is an all-encompassing improvement methodology.
  1. PLAN: Plan the action. Assess the current state, and the future state, and plan how to close the gap. Identify alternate solutions. 
  2. DO: Try out or test the solutions (sometimes at a pilot level).
  3. STUDY: Study to see if the tested solutions accomplished the objective.
  4. ACT: Request corrective actions on significant differences between actual and planned results. Analyze the differences to determine their root causes. Repeat the cycle.6

The Deming System of Profound Knowledge

W. Edwards Deming popularized the term "Profound Knowledge" to describe a base of fundamental beliefs that provided the context for the ways he made sense of organizations. Deming's System of Profound Knowledge is not a "system" in the sense of a systematic set of procedures. Rather it is a systemic, holistic core of fundamental beliefs about organizations and the people who comprise them.7
The System of Profound Knowledge, or management by positive co-operation, is described in its four interrelated elements.
  1. Appreciation for a system: The need for managers to understand the relationships between functions and activities, and that the long term aim is for everyone to win – employees, shareholders, customers, suppliers and the environment.
  2. Knowledge of variation: Knowledge and understanding of variation, process capability, control charts, interactions and loss function.
  3. Theory of knowledge: As all plans require prediction based on historical information, the theory must be understood before it can successfully be copied.
  4. Knowledge of psychology: The understanding of human interactions, how people are motivated and what disillusions them.

Deming's Seven Deadly Diseases

Deming believed that traditional management practices, such as the Seven Deadly Diseases listed below, significantly contributed to the American quality crisis.2
  1. Lack of constancy of purpose
  2. Emphasis on short-term profits
  3. Evaluation by performance, merit rating, or annual review of performance
  4. Mobility of management
  5. Running a company on visible figures alone
  6. Excessive medical costs
  7. Excessive costs of warranty, fueled by lawyers who work for contingency fees


  1. Wikipedia :
  2. Mildred Golden Pryor, Quality Gurus ,
  3. Quality Gurus,
  4. Jurgen Appelo, Management 3.0, Pearson Education , Indiana, 2011, Pg: 374
  5. Ronald D. Moen and Clifford L. Norman, “The History of the PDCA Cycle,” proceedings from the Seventh Asian Network for Quality Congress, Tokyo, Sept. 17, 2009.
  6. John E. Knight, Sandra Allen, Applying the PDCA Cycle to the Complex Task of Teaching and Assessing Public Relations Writing, International Journal of Higher Education, Vol 1, No 2 (2012), PP 3-5
  7. Lewis A.Rhodes, The Profound Knowledge School, /Transforming%20Education/Articles/The%20Profound%20Knowledge%20School/  

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